As the new year arrives, young girls through­out the community begin to put on their badge-studded vests, gather boxes of cookies and start their entrepreneurial journeys.

Local Girl Scouts troops have begun their annual cookie-selling campaigns, which goes until late March.

For Troop 495 leader Tesia Rivera and her three daughters, Raelyn, Rianna and Tasia, cookie season means setting big goals and working hard to achieve them.

Rivera’s daughters all have been scouts since they were kindergarteners and have taken on several methods of selling cookies, from going door-to-door throughout neighborhoods, to setting up booths outside of local businesses, to making sure cookie order forms are passed out to as many potential customers as possible.

Though Rivera chaperones the scouts in her troop and helps with logistics and transportation, she said her scouts take the initiative to set their own goals and sell their own cookies.

“It is a girl-led organization,” she said. “They tell us what they want to do and then we’re just here to help them get to where they need to go.”

This sense of empowerment is the theme of a new cookie released this year: the Lemon-Ups. A crispy, lemon-glazed treat, each cookie is engraved with a motivational message. There are eight different messages, which include “I Am a Leader,” “I Am Gutsy” and “I Am Creative.”

“Girl Scouts is all about girl empowerment,” Rianna said of the messages on the cookies. “These are actually quotes actual Girl Scouts said and it’s to inspire girls to be entrepreneurs.”

The Lemon-Ups have replaced the Savannah Smiles cookies, which were sugar-dusted lemon cookies. Local Girl Scouts troops offer six flavors: Samoas, Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos, Trefoils and Lemon-Ups.

There also are two specialty flavors available only by preordering: Girl Scout S’Mores and the gluten-free Toffee-­Tastic. Specialty cookies are $6 per box and all other cookies are $5 per box. The order phase for specialty flavors ends Jan. 26.

Misty Elliott, Mem­ber­ship Development Specialist for Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana, said the most popular cookie in the region is the Somoa. She said the Thin Mints come in a close second.

Elliott said a major competent of Girl Scouts on an administrative level in recent years has been an emphasis on STEM opportunities for girls. Teshia said her troop has focused on things such as cyber security and robotics in recent years.

Technology also now plays into the way in which Girl Scouts sell cookies. Some newer developments include credit card readers, personal websites for selling cookies and an app called Girl Scout Cookie Finder that informs users of the nearest Girl Scouts booth. The Cookie Finder app is available on the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

Personalized Girl Scouts websites can be customized with photos, videos and troop goals, and Girl Scouts can sell and ship cookies through them. For security, a personal invitation is required to access these sites.

In addition to directly buying a box of cookies from Girl Scouts, customers also can choose to donate cookies to American soldiers serving overseas through the Operation: Cookie program.

“People will say ‘I want one box for myself and one box to send to the troops,’” Rianna said.

Proceeds for Girl Scouts cookies go back into local troops, where money is used for materials and troop outings. Last year, all 38 members of Troop 495 were able to pay for a trip to Gatlinburg thanks to proceeds from cookie sales.

Rivera said Troop 495 members volunteer each month at Memorial United Methodist Church’s food pantry, helping to sort and create food boxes for those in need. She said the troop hopes to use proceeds from this year’s cookie sales to purchase materials for the food pantry.

“It’s super important we do get that support because if we don’t, we can’t support the girls and their endeavors,” she said.

Elliott said she hopes this year’s campaign will make more people aware of the opportunities available for scouts. Tesia, who serves as the area cookie chairwoman, said around 2,000 2-hour booth slots took place in Elizabethtown last year. She said booth setups have proven to be effective in recruiting new scouts.

“We have a little girl who is in our troop now, when she was four she ran up to our cookie booth, grabbed two boxes and started selling cookies,” she said. “She sold several boxes and said ‘I’m going to be in your troop next year.’”

Elliott said this positive influence and sense of mentorship is her favorite thing about cookie season.

“To see the real passion and excitement that little girls get – whether they’re at the booths selling or at the booths buying and wanting to get involved – it’s powerful,” she said.

Andrew Critchelow can be reached at 270-505-1746 or

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